Incentives to volunteer 'could be dangerous'

Charities could be breeding a generation that volunteers only in return for incentives, according to the director of the Association of Volunteer Managers.

Sean Cobley made the claim at a debate hosted by Volunteering England this week.

"I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with attracting people through incentives but we need to look carefully at how using them affects the integrity of volunteering," he said.

"If people volunteer only for incentives, it has gone too far. You can't say you are offering your time for free if you get a concert ticket for just four hours of volunteering," he added.

Cobley was referring to an initiative by Orange RockCorps, which uses the offer of concert tickets to inspire young people to volunteer.

Stephen Greene, chief executive of RockCorps, said there was a danger that people would begin to expect incentives. But a bigger worry would be if community needs were ignored, he said.

"By far the biggest danger is not being able to present community needs in a way that young people can engage with," he said. "Our challenge should be to make opportunities that young people want to get involved in, not to argue about why they are doing it."

John Bateman, chief executive of youth work charity UK Youth, said people were motivated to volunteer by their own interests and passions and there was nothing wrong with offering other forms of incentive. The difficulty was in encouraging long-term participation, he added.


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